Enterprise Search Europe 2012 took place on 30-31 May in London, attracting an audience of over 100 from across Europe. The opening keynote on The Future of Search was given by Paul Docher (CEO Lucid Imagination) who right from the start involved the audience in his presentation by asking for their opinions on various topics. Paul saw big data and mobile access as two of the key factors in the development of search and emphasised the importance of federated search and cloud-based search services. If this was to be the future Kristian Norling (Findwise) brought us back to earth with the results from the Global Search Survey.

The conference then split into two tracks. Matt Mullen (Real Story Group) spoke about the differences between public web search and enterprise search, providing ammunition for search managers trying to convince senior management that a Google GSA was not the ultimate search solution. Meanwhile Laura Wilber (Exalead) presented an overview of big data (or is it Big Data?) based on the recent Exalead white paper.   The morning session was closed with Alan Pelz-Sharpe (451 Group) chairing a panel session about the critical success factors for successful search implementation projects. The consensus was that it was a) all about careful planning and b) putting in place the resources needed to maintain search quality over the long term. Search projects don’t stop with the installation!

After lunch there were tracks on FAST Search Server and Taxonomies. Christian Vogt (Raytion) surprised many with his analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of FAST Search Server, and Torsten Mollien (Avanade) described a case study on the implementation of a search-based application for a major Swiss bank using FAST Search Server. In parallel Runar Buvik (Searchdiamon) talked about a search evaluation methodology and Emma Byrne and Donald Phillips impressed the audience with the scale and capabilities of the search application that is being implemented by The National Archives in the UK.

After the break Iain Fletcher (Search Technologies) highlighted the importance of data quality in achieving good search performance and Charlie Hull (Flax) described the migration of the web site search for News International from FAST ESP to Lucence Solr. Though this was a web site project the lessons learned were directly applicable to enterprise search migration projects.

The day closed with a keynote presentation from Matt Eichner (General Manager, Global Enterprise Search, Google) who spoke about Re-conceiving Enterprise Search. The next release (Version 7) of Google ESA is due out in a few months and I suspect that some of the visions for search that Matt talked about might well appear in Version 7.   Matt’s presentation was filmed by Google and a number of attendees were also interviewed during cocktails at the end of the day.

Day 2 report

Martin White